Friday News & Notes

As was telegraphed by Bob McKenzie and Seth Jones earlier in the week, came this news yesterday…

"The Ottawa Senators announced today the club has signed free agent defenceman Troy Rutkowski to a three-year entry-level contract. Rutkowski is currently playing in his fifth season with the Portland Winterhawks, the Western Hockey League’s top-ranked team."

Rutkowski is an interesting case, drafted by Colorado 137th overall in 2010, the Avalanche chose not to sign him and relinquished his rights. He re-entered the draft last year, and was passed over, making him a free agent at the age of 20.

So what kind of player is Ottawa getting here? Well he's 6'2, 199, a right shot, a team captain, and a consistent offensive performer:

SEASON TEAM GP G A PTS
2009/10 Portland 71 12 31 43
2010/11 Portland 72 10 37 47
2011/12 Portland 72 13 32 45
2012/13 Portland 69 69 41 61

Though it should be said that Portland has been stacked with talent over this span so he isn't exactly playing with nobodies here. The concerns with his game seem to hinge on his ability to skate:

At the least this acquisition brings talent to the organization that only costs money, which should be applauded. The Winterhawks are up there among Memorial Cup favourites so it's somewhat doubtful we'll see Troy in Binghamton anytime soon.

Spezza Timelines

An Ian Mendes story on March 6, had Murray sounding optimistic on Spezza's recovery from back surgery:

"Jason has been cleared by the doctors for hard work and to get it going. We're hoping in about two to three weeks we'll be able to put him into the lineup for us."

On Wednesday Renauld Lavoie tweeted this:

And on Thursday, Murray had this update:

"There's nothing different. What happended was he overdid it one day. He just had some discomfort with muscles in hsi back that he hadn't worked out for a long time. Somebody had to aske me if there'd been a setback and I just said he'd be a little longer than I probably though, simply because he just has to get back in condition. It's going to be his timetable. We don't want him to overdo it to the extent when he comes back, he's not in 100% condition. In turn, I know he's working hard and getting ready. We hope it won't be too far down the road."

Nothing's changed, but we're not hearing two week timelines anymore. Got it.

Maybe I'll be singing a different tune after the weekend, but right now the prospect of another month without Spezza doesn't really scare me that much. The Sens are in every game, and if that holds they'll get points one way or the other.

Deja Vu

In response to a question on Milan Michalek's condition today, MacLean had this to say from Buffalo:

"Everything's the same with him. There's been some improvement, but not significant…he's not availble for the weekend."

This is really starting to feel like a replay to the end of his 2010 season.

Stone Down, Sdao Signed

Playing 5:51 in a game that went 65 minutes vs Montreal, maybe should have been a clue that Stone was soon to be back with the B-Sens. I didn't think he looked awful out there, and there were glimpses of his hockey sense (especially vs Toronto), but his skating still limits what he can do in the NHL. Development wise – the AHL is where he should be.

Another body was added to the Binghamton roster yesterday in Michael Sdao:

"The Ottawa Senators announced today that the club has singed defenceman Michael Sdao to a one-year entry-level contract. Sdao has signed an amateur tryout agreement and will report to the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League."

Taken 191 overall by the Senators in the '09 draft, Sdao played four years at Princeton. Like Kassian he's big at 6'4, 230, but unlike Kassian indications are he can actually play hockey.

SEASON TEAM GP G A PTS
2009/10 Princeton 30 5 4 9
2010/11 Princeton 27 3 7 10
2011/12 Princeton 30 10 10 20
2012/13 Princeton 31 8 7 15

A big, strong, 23-year-old defenceman with modest offensive tools? Right now, who's gonna bet against this guy playing top-pairing minutes on the Senators within the week?

College Free Agents

Last night Bob McKenzie had a primer on the NCAA free agent crop with the college hockey season drawing to a close. As expected Dekeyser and Sustr are the big names mentioned, and both are names said to have been pursued by Ottawa in the past. Detroit's the big favorite on Dekeyser, and Sustr has participated in a Ranger camp…but then again Tim Murray is pretty good at this game too. Graeme wrote on Dekeyser here, and Sustr here if you're looking for a little more background.

Friday News & Notes

More WJC Fallout

First up, Sportsnet CHL analyst Sam Cosentino made his customary Tuesday appearance on TEAM1260's The Pipeline Show, and had this to say when asked which player he was most surprised to see not get an invite from Hockey Canada to next week's selection camp:

"Ceci. For me Ceci is the guy. I mean he does so many things well, and when I look at an Ottawa team that's depleted of a lot of guys from last year, he's still doing fine. He's probably being overexposed in terms of his minutes, but you can say that about a lot of defenseman – I mean you could say that about Xavier Ouellet who plays for Blainsville-Boisbriand, and yet they're a team that's near the top of the table in the QMJHL. I don't know, I think Ceci's the guy for me just because of how many different elements he brings to the game; he angles well, he's got a good stick so the defensive part isn't an issue, he shoots the puck a ton, he can skate pucks out, he makes a good first pass. And that one to me…that doesn't make any sense to me."

Later in the show Canadian head coach Steve Spott was interviewed, clarifiying Matt Puempel's health status and how it affected his getting or not getting an invite:

"Matt's play had obviously warranted an opportunity to make our invite list, which was announced yesterday. Last Tuesday night to start the London Knights game, Matt Puempel was on the list to come to our camp in Calgary, unfortunately an injury during that game, and the medical diagnosis that I received along with Hockey Canada. Just didn't allow us to feel comfortable bringing him to our camp on Monday, because of the uncertainty of the shouldler injury. It's unfortunate, because I just want all Ottawa Senators fans to know to recognize that it had absolutely nothing to do with Matt's play. I talked to Randy Lee from the Senators, and they fully understand and support the decision. It's not harder, trust me, on anybody but myself – I'm the president of the Matt Puempel fan club as a player and as a person, and would have liked nothing more than to have him on plane with me next week to Calgary."

Wiercioch Praise

Finally Sylvain St-Laurent interviewed Luke Richardson yesterday, which you can read in full here. But I thought this comment was noteworthy:

"He came to training camp in great shape. He suffered an injury during training camp, but he has come back strong at the time Jared Cowen left us. He really knew how to seize this opportunity. He plays more than often with Andre Benoit. Because he has improved defensively, we're not afraid to use him in crucial situations. He had to improve defensively to play in the NHL. In Ottawa, he knows he will never be the number one offensive defenseman."

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